On Thursday Fox News’ White House correspondent Ed Henry asked the President to comment about a statement Mitt Romney had made in a speech on October 7 to the cadets at the Citadel:
Henry: What specific steps will you take to hold Iran accountable, especially when Mitt Romney charged last week, quote, “If you do not want America to be the strongest place on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today.’”
Obama: I didn’t know you were the spokesperson for Mitt Romney.
Even though Obama received some laughs for his response it raised questions in the press as to whether the President is feeling the heat from polls showing that he would have a tough time beating a Republican challenger for re-election next year.
CNBC’s John Harwood decided to delve into this further during his interview with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley on Friday:
Harwood: Yesterday at a press conference one of my colleagues asked the President to respond to something Mitt Romney said. The President said, ‘I didn’t realize you were a spokesman for Mitt Romney.’ Is the White House — you feeling — the President feeling under siege from events right now?
Daley: Well I don’t think it was a colleague from your network, but a colleague from another network. And — sometimes as you — I know may surprise people, some people, there are certain people in the media who seem at times to carry the water for certain — piece of the political spectrum.
In other words because Ed Henry works for Fox that means that he is a partisan Republican and therefore can’t be expected to ask a fair question. Never mind that Henry worked for CNN previously, which is not a conservative network, or that Jake Tapper asked basically the same question the week before to Jay Carney and didn’t receive similar treatment. After all, how could Carney accuse Tapper of working for Romney when he works for ABC, which has never been known for its conservative political opinion?
Obama was more than happy to have a partisan press in 2008 when he was running for president, as they jumped on the bandwagon and helped him win the presidency. And he was pleased that they continued to buy into his policies after he took office and started leading the country down what has been an economic path of doom and gloom rather than of hope and change.
But as Obama’s exchange with Henry showed, the administration is clearly feeling the pressure of failed policies and expectations and the eroding confidence of not only the public, but of their liberal media allies. When asked a straightforward question, Obama chose to deflect it with a joke rather than answer it head on.
That may work a few times, but it won’t work in the long run. With a difficult re-election campaign ahead of him Obama will need all the help he can get from the media if he expects to stay in office past January 2013.